"This is a time to roar back and assert and celebrate the beauty of the printed page."
Dave Eggers, author and founder of McSweeney’s from The San Francisco Chronicle
Nobody does print on paper like McSweeney’s, the San Francisco publishing house (and pirate store/children’s writing workshop) founded by author Dave Eggers. They publish the kinds of books you wish you had written, with special editions that make you long for a rainy day and a great big armchair. The wildly popular, one-time only, Sunday-edition-sized newspaper San Francisco Panorama is their latest attempt to “demonstrate all the great things that print journalism can (still) do.”
To my delight, the lead story of the Opinion & Analysis section of Panorama is Nicholson Baker’s “Can a Paper Mill Save a Forest? The strange possibility that the transferring of information digitally is more environmentally destructive than printing it”, featuring none other than our client Verso Paper and the Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine. Baker visits Jay and sees firsthand the economic devastation caused by Wassau Paper Company’s closing of the other mill in Jay – the Otis Mill. That’s one story.
The other story is how “print grows trees” by keeping forestry profitable for landowners. Baker quotes Don Carli, research fellow at the Institute of Sustainable Communications: “Hamburgers and condos kill more trees than printed objects ever will.” Carli goes on to explain that when landowners can no longer generate income from logging, the developers move in and offer steep premiums that far exceed what the land is worth as a forest. Land that’s been clear-cut for low-density development is truly deforested, and all the benefits of that forest, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, watersheds, beauty, recreation, etc. are lost forever.
HOORAY, I say. Finally someone other than a paper company has stepped up to the plate and spoken the truth, cutting to the heart of the well-propagated myth—which, according to Carli, some might say is a fraud—that if we stop using paper, they’ll stop cutting down trees.
This is not a harmless little myth – it’s a myth that has significant environmental and economic consequences. There are 44 million acres of U.S. forestland that are in danger of being sold for development or converted to agriculture in the next 20 years. Mill closings across the country are tearing communities apart where three generations of families have been supported by the forest products industry. Working forests are healthy forests and contribute to a healthy community.
We at Perdue Creative are very proud to be a part of creating the soon-to-launch "Print Grows Trees" campaign with the Printing & Graphics Association, Mid-Atlantic (PGAMA). The campaign website will give us the opportunity to expose the real facts and figures about deforestation and the role that paper and print play in keeping our forests alive and well.
We’re hoping that Baker’s article will reach a new audience of people who bash paper based on their false assumptions. We need a new generation of better informed tree huggers, and maybe McSweeney’s can help reach that generation.
Meanwhile, I’ll go on banging my little paper drum and this Sunday, when it starts raining again, I’ll stretch out on my couch, peruse the rest of my Panorama, shop from my Anthropologie catalog, stick “Yes” stickers on all the stuff I want in my Lucky magazine and scribble a few notes in my journal.
P.S. -- If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair and visit 826 Valencia Street in the Mission District. You can check out all of McSweeney’s titles, buy some glass eyeballs and, if you’re lucky, see a children’s writing workshop going on in the back room.